‘It’s heartbreaking’ - Father to tackle 150-mile cycle ride to help fund daughter’s life-changing operation

PUBLISHED: 13:31 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:44 06 August 2018

Harper Sharrocks being held by her dad, both in Derby County kit. Photo: Sharrocks Family

Harper Sharrocks being held by her dad, both in Derby County kit. Photo: Sharrocks Family

Sharrocks Family

A father will take on the challenge to cycle 150 miles - having not ridden a bicycle in 10 years - to raise vital funds for his baby daughter to have life-changing surgery in America.

Harper Sharrocks. Photo: Sharrocks FamilyHarper Sharrocks. Photo: Sharrocks Family

When Harper Sharrocks, who turns two next month, was born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) on September 1, 2016, it was not a second too soon.

Doctors discovered her umbilical cord was knotted, starving her brain of oxygen, in a one-in-40,000 chance condition called True Knot.

Had she been delivered naturally, rather than by c-section, she would have died.

Harper was diagnosed with severe hypoglycaemia, hyperinsulinism and cerebral palsy and would spend seven weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) - where her parents Steve and Natasha maintained a 18-hour-a-day vigil.

Harper Sharrocks with her dad in the hospital. Photo: Sharrocks FamilyHarper Sharrocks with her dad in the hospital. Photo: Sharrocks Family

And tests also showed cysts on her brain which, along with the hypoglycaemia, were caused when the knot cut off her oxygen.

This caused part of her brain to not form properly and Mr and Mrs Sharrocks, of Lone Barn Road, Norwich, were told Harper will probably never walk unaided.

But a ray of hope was found in an operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), which is not available on the NHS until Harper turns four, but could mean she takes her first steps.

Determined to give their daughter the best chance, Mr and Mrs Sharrocks launched an ambitious fundraising bid to gather £80,000 for the operation in St Louis, Missouri.

Harper Sharrocks in a standing frame. Photo: Sharrocks FamilyHarper Sharrocks in a standing frame. Photo: Sharrocks Family

And the latest endeavour will see Mr Sharrocks, 31, cycle from Carrow Road to Pride Park Stadium, the home ground of Derby County who he supports, when the team faces Norwich City on October 3. If all goes to plan he will arrive in time for kick-off.

MORE: ‘It was like something off Casualty’ - Mother’s instincts saved the life of her baby daughter who was just 30 minutes from death

Mr Sharrocks, a manager at a battery specialist company, said: “I just wanted to do something myself. I’m not much of a runner so cycling seemed more like it but I’ve not been on a bike in over 10 years, even then it was only getting to work. They say you never forget how to ride a bike but indicating and stuff, it is difficult to pick it up again.”

Despite admitting he was nervous about the ride, which Mr Sharrocks is taking on with his brother-in-law Danny Shafiyan, 29, from Taverham, he had already been training and had built up to 18 miles so far.

Harper Sharrocks with her mum Natasha. Photo: Sharrocks FamilyHarper Sharrocks with her mum Natasha. Photo: Sharrocks Family

Mr Sharrocks said his daughter’s struggle was underlined at a recent birthday party for a boy around her age.

He said while the little boy was able to get up and run around, Harper could not, with both children equally confused.

He said: “You can see in her eyes. He was trying to pull her up and he couldn’t understand, you could see between the two of them trying to understand it because she loves other children and she wants to start walking. It’s heartbreaking.”

To donate to the cycle ride, click here.

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